Delving into the Shadows: Ranking the 5 Darkest Elder Scrolls Games

Lillian Rivera


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The Elder Scrolls series has enthralled gamers for decades with its expansive open-world settings, intense combat, and deep lore. But one aspect that has consistently captivated fans is the series' penchant for darkness. These games have taken players to the brink of despair and back through harrowing quests, sinister locations, and chilling encounters. In this article, we rank the five darkest Elder Scrolls games and explore what makes each one stand out in terms of its grim atmosphere and themes.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim

Skyrim is a land of harsh winters and brutal conditions, where political intrigue, civil war, and the return of dragons create an atmosphere of perpetual danger. The Daedric quests in Skyrim often involve morally ambiguous choices and deeds, such as cannibalism, human sacrifice, and assassination. The vampire and werewolf storylines also add an extra layer of darkness, as players can choose to become powerful, feared creatures of the night. With its immersive setting and many paths to nefarious deeds, Skyrim stands as the darkest entry in the Elder Scrolls series.

2. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind

Morrowind transports players to the alien world of Vvardenfell, where ancient customs and dangerous magic prevail. As they unravel the game's complex politics and deep-seated cultural conflicts, players find themselves in the midst of disturbing revelations and chilling encounters. The Bloodmoon expansion carries a strong, dark theme with its werewolf-centered storyline and connection to the sinister god Hircine. While Morrowind's visuals may be dated, its intricate narrative and unnerving atmosphere make it one of the darkest Elder Scrolls games.

3. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion

Oblivion may be best remembered for its vibrant, lush landscapes and engrossing side quests, but it also features a number of dark, twisted storylines. The game's eponymous Oblivion Crisis sees the player venturing into hellish, demonic realms while attempting to save the world from the malevolent Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon. Additionally, the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild questlines expose players to the seedy, criminal underworld lurking beneath the surface of Cyrodiil. Oblivion may be more colorful than its successors, but its darker content remains unforgettable.

4. The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online

As a massively multiplayer online game, The Elder Scrolls Online allows players to explore every corner of Tamriel, encountering dark storylines and sinister foes along the way. The game's main story involves a battle against the Daedric Prince Molag Bal, while countless side quests delve into themes of betrayal, corruption, and murder. The game's expansions, such as Greymoor and Elsweyr, have taken players to even darker places, featuring supernatural foes like vampires and necromancers. ESO offers a vast, ever-evolving world with no shortage of shadowy content for players to uncover.

5. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall

The Elder Scrolls II Daggerfall

As the second main entry in the series, Daggerfall set the stage for the dark themes that would define later Elder Scrolls games. Players are tasked with investigating the mysterious death of a king, uncovering a web of political intrigue, dark magic, and deceit. The game's massive, procedurally generated world offers countless locations for sinister occurrences, from undead-infested crypts to haunted houses. While its graphics and gameplay may be primitive by today's standards, Daggerfall remains an important milestone in the series' exploration of darkness.


The Elder Scrolls games have consistently pushed the boundaries of dark, mature themes in the world of RPGs. From the grim, treacherous landscapes of Skyrim to the alien, sinister depths of Morrowind, these games have provided players with engrossing, often unsettling experiences in their quest for glory and power. Based on user reviews and long-standing player experiences, Skyrim emerges as the series' darkest entry, enveloping players in an atmosphere of palpable dread and moral ambiguity. Its balance of chilling content, epic storytelling, and immersive gameplay make it a benchmark not only for the Elder Scrolls series but for the entire RPG genre.